Modifying A Bullet For Easier Feeding

James at BBTI is a fan of the Buffalo Bore 340gr .44 Magnum load but it does not feed well in his lever action. His first attempt at modifying the (loaded) bullets was to use a rasp. He now uses a large pencil sharpener and the results look pretty good

So I’m just now getting back to the experiment. Fortunately, someone over on Facebook made a suggestion which proved to be just about perfect:  use a pencil sharpener. Specifically, one designed for the larger style of carpenter’s pencils.

The first one I found here at home didn’t work. But my wife remembered an older (and cheaper) one she had and dug it out for me. I gave it a try, and here’s the result:


Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Burst

    In this time of shortage, I’m sensitive to the need to be adaptable.
    But why would you purchase and stock a brand of ammo that your firearm doesn’t agree with, when there are presumably ones it does?

    • Ian

      These appear to be hand cast bullets. They are predominantly designed for revolvers.

      There might even be a very small market for a better mold for bullets meant feeding cartridges.

    • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

      There are VERY FEW commercial sources of 340gr 44mag loads. These are loads and bullets which really push the limits of the .44mag cartridge.

      • Jim Downey

        Bingo. These are essentially +P+ loads, which are unsafe for any number of firearms. The two .44mag firearms I own (a Colt Anaconda and a Winchester 94AE) are both suitable for it. I just wanted to make sure it would feed reliably in the lever-gun.

  • AD

    That sharpened bullet looks pretty good, but I’m worried accuracy will suffer if it’s not very uniform?

  • gunslinger

    how does the pencil sharpener blade hold up?

    • Jim Downey

      Just fine so far.

  • Major Nav

    Theoretically, the rounded nose is more aerodynamic.
    The sharp transition from the shoulder on your modified bullet can create parasitic drag along the side of the bullet after the transition. But since it has a flat nose already that may negate the drag.
    It would be interesting to see if it has more drop at long distances.

    • Major Nav

      Also, the CG of the bullet is shifted slightly aft but so is the CP. Check for tumble.

  • John E Davies

    As a reloader, I don’t see an issue with this sort of trimming, but ONLY if you do it to loose bullets and then sort by weight before use, There is no way bullets trimmed on loaded cartridges will group well, because there will be too much variation in projectile weight and shape. If the plan is to have campsite bear defense loads, the group size would be less important than 100% reliable feeding. But there are plenty of high quality heavy bullets in this caliber that will work in a lever gun. I wouldn’t waste my time on doing this. John Davies, Spokane WA USA

  • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

    So how many grains lighter is the bullet now? It’s definitely no longer a 340gr bullet 🙂 Also… 340gr .44mag??? Holy crap. That’s gotta beat the shoulder up. I need to get me some! Wonder if these are compatible with the Ruger Super Redhawk.

    • Jim Downey

      The follow-up post (which is the one I think Steve intended to link to … ) is here, and explains a little more about the results:

      Bottom line: I’ve checked the shavings of each bullet out of the box+ I’ve done so far, and each time the shaving has been consistently between 8 and 10 grains, clustered close to 9gr. And the pencil sharpener does a remarkably consistent job of leaving a uniform shape to the resulting bullet.

      I intend on taking these to the range tomorrow, but I can’t see where the difference in accuracy is going to be more than I can shoot the gun with iron sights at fairly close (50 yards) range. Which is all I want it for.

      Jim Downey

      • Steve (TFB Editor)

        er yes, that was the post I mean’t to link to. Will update now.